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Unhappy holidays for immigrant families in detention

If you drive about two hours west of Staten Island, you will come to Reading, Pennsylvania. The city is famous for its pagoda, prominent place in railroad history, and more recently, its family immigration detention center.

Families that fled violence and chaos in their Central American home countries recently spent the holidays locked up in the detention center. A columnist who writes for an area newspaper notes that some of those families just spent their second Christmas there.

The columnist notes that detainees include children -- some as young as two years old. He also notes that many people believe that immigrants crossing into the U.S. across our southern border are Mexicans looking for jobs. He writes that the reality is that today, many immigrants come seeking asylum.

Many people living in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras fled the rampant violence, taking their children and the clothes on their backs to find refuge in the United States. Or so they hoped.

Instead, many of them have instead found themselves locked up in detention centers until deportation hearings are scheduled and held.

The columnist writes that federal guidelines and courts have limited detention to 20 days, yet some in the center outside of Reading have been held for more than 400 days. Even ICE's own advisory committee says detention is "generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families."

If someone you care about is being detained, you can speak with a Staten Island immigration law attorney about available legal options. Our office represents detainees in New York City, Philadelphia and across the U.S.

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